Open Door Community Needs Your Help

HomelessMany Virginia-Highland residents are aware of the Open Door Community, which operates out of an old home located at 910 Ponce de Leon Avenue, just a short walk west from Briarcliff Summit. An Atlanta “Protestant-Catholic Worker community”, Open Door’s mission, broadly stated, is “to resist war and violence and nurture community in ministry with and advocacy for the homeless poor and prisoners, particularly those on death row.”

In everyday terms, Open Door is an important resource in our community – a last resort, in many cases – for the unfortunate souls we see sleeping on our park benches or sidewalks and wandering aimlessly through our streets. Many of these disadvantaged citizens have mental disabilities and no place else to turn for help. Open Door provides housing, food, clothing, sanitary services, medical care and access to additional resources that can help keep the homeless alive and healthy. Through their ministry, the staff offers the homeless a shelter from the storm and hope that a better life can lie ahead.

DSC_0005Open Door staff members Mary Catherine Johnson and Terry Kennedy reached out to the VHCA recently in an effort to foster a new, more active working relationship between Open Door and the Virginia-Highland community at large. Several members of the board visited the facility this week and were educated on Open Door’s mission. We saw the limited resources the staff has to accomplish that mission. The challenge is enormous, to say the least, and we thought you’d want us to let you know how you can help.


Donations are accepted at the front door of the Open Door Community, 910 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Contact Mary Catherine Johnson at or 404-273-0621 with any questions or to make arrangements outside of those times.

Open Door staff member Terry Kennedy explains the process for providing the homeless with clean clothes while fellow staffer Mary Catherine Johnson (right) and VaHi resident Stephanie Coffin listen.

In the cold winter months, the community urgently needs the following items:

  • Men’s shoes, especially sizes 12 and up
  • Long underwear
  • Blankets
  • Backpacks
  • Winter coats for men and women
  • Gloves
  • Men’s jeans, all sizes
  • Ready-to-serve covered dishes that are homemade or left over from parties/receptions

Donations of cash or checks are also greatly appreciated. Make checks payable to the Open Door Community.

Volunteer Needs

As much as clothing, food or money, Open Door needs you. Volunteer help is desperately needed in the following areas:

  • Tuesday Soup Kitchen & Men’s Showers: 8:45 am – 2:00 pm
  • Wednesday Soup Kitchen & Women’s Showers: 9:30 am – 2:00 pm
  • Wednesday Foot Clinic: 7:00 – 9:30 pm
  • Volunteers to cook or bring supper for the community’s residents (about 25 people) any night of the week except Friday and Saturday
  • Volunteers to come in on weekends to help around the house: sorting donations, cleaning, etc.
The community is in dire need of men's shoes, especially size 12 and up.
The community is in dire need of men’s shoes, especially size 12 and up.

Contact Mary Catherine Johnson at or 404-273-0621 to volunteer or if you have questions.

The VHCA looks forward to hosting Mary Catherine at our February 10 monthly meeting (7:00 PM at the public library on Ponce de Leon Avenue) where she will make a short presentation and take questions. All interested VaHi residents are cordially invited to attend.

To view an album of photos from the VHCA board’s tour of the Open Door facility, click here.

For more information on the Open Door Community, visit their website.

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